Don’t cancel old folks essential services


Management here at the CCRC sent out a memo that said they were reducing the every-other-week housekeeping services to each apartment – and that the ladies would come in and clean bathrooms and remove the trash ONLY.

I assume, since this was not covered in the memo, that they were diverting part of the time to public cleanings, such as the handrails that line our corridors, public areas, elevators…

To which a bunch of people replied, WTF?

So they came and did that the first week on quarantine, and left, and the memos to boneheaded management started flying back.

Not that big a deal? Sacrifice for the cause?

People around here haven’t done housework since they moved here – that’s one of the things we pay for. But the important part of that is that many people CAN’T do their own housework – they are physically incapable of it, don’t have the upper body strength, can’t stand long enough.

And can’t take prolonged exposure to cleaning products.

Management realized that this was a no go, and changed back to regular cleaning, on schedule (and they’ve never taken the trash out before – I wonder if they will continue to do that).

And the state of our kitchen, with just one missed housekeeping session, is exactly what you would have expected if no one did the floors or the appliances for a month. Gross.

The lovely husband keeps cooking areas clean, and we both keep dishes under control, but added to eating far more meals here than ever before, we have had the additional tasks of dealing with the takeout containers (which seem to be bought from a different manufacturer, and thus have different recycling/composting/trash requirements almost every day).

The residents have EXTRA work, too

It’s a small annoyance turned critical because we have to worry about whether those containers are safe to touch, and wash our hands many extra times around handling things.

It occurs to me that since they no longer have service in the dining room, they are saving a bundle on those staffing requirements that take a lot of time – we get our own ice water, coffee (they don’t bring coffee with dinner), plates, dessert from the buffet, everything. Gracious dining takes effort.

The kitchen is set up, I assume again, on a much diminished menu (no choices), and a streamlined process by which food is put into containers, and bagged. Time and staff is saved there, too.

But the main reason we need housekeeping

was very evident: we, as a group, don’t see well enough to do a good job, and often don’t have the energy – one of the first things people are advised to look for when deciding to put mom and dad in a home is whether their parents’ housekeeping standards, always so high, are not being followed any more, and mom and dad’s once-lovely home is starting to not only look tacky, but require all of the offspring’s energy when they come to visit.

So that visits consist of overwhelmed children trying to do everything mom and dad no longer can. Instead of a nice visit.

It’s really hard to run a heavy vacuum cleaner when you’re in a wheelchair or use a walker. Dusting up-high surfaces you can’t even reach becomes optional, and they forgotten.

And the back of the handles on the refrigerator get awfully grotty.

Small things?

We’re in the vulnerable group: older, and often with more than one ‘condition’ which makes us think seriously about owning homes and living alone.

And most of all, being a burden to our children.

But precisely because of this, we’re spending all our time locked down in our own apartments.

Can you even imagine what the interiors of all the apartments would look like after many months – because it will be 12-18 months before a vaccine is developed, and it will likely NOT be offered to the old and sick first, because, hey, the young people have to restart the economy – of no one doing even minimum cleaning?

The sight is not one I, as a housekeeper, would like to have to come in and face a year from now. And have to start cleaning up.

This decision was definitely a step too far. We haven’t reached such dire situations here – yet.

And my thoughts and prayers and charitable dollars go to those folk around the world who have nothing, not even clean water. Nor a safe place to be locked down in.

Today’s tiny essay was brought to you courtesy of the lovely housekeeping ladies here at URC – who work very hard, and then go home to their families, worrying all the time about the same virus I can’t afford to get.

I can only tell you my tiny part of the story. Because that’s all I can see myself.



18 thoughts on “Don’t cancel old folks essential services

  1. joey

    Oh wow. Who thought that one up? I would think cleaning staff would generally wear gloves, and if not before, would wear masks now.
    When my grandmother was still living in her big house on the lake, we would go each fall and spring and give the house a thorough cleaning – tidy up the yard. She cleaned on her own, but there were things she did not do anymore — things one climbs or crawls around to do. We didn’t WANT her to do that, and if we were paying someone else to do it, we’d be furious if it wasn’t done. Glad your community reconsidered!
    Our office’s cleaning staff isn’t doing dishes right now? I don’t know why, but they’re not. I tell you, it has been a real burden to wash two extra mugs these last few weeks. *rolls eyes* Obviously, I have minimal problems here.
    Years ago, we had a shigella outbreak in our community — Google doesn’t know shigella? Okay. So at that time, I took care using Lysol and bleach on some surfaces, and I think people should have those things around, in case. However, I mostly clean with vinegar, magic eraser, and SOAP. When a friend of mine was buying germicidal bleach for her home at the beginning of this pandemic, I was alarmed by her alarmist reaction.


  2. acflory

    I’m not letting anyone in the house for fear of what they’ll bring with them, but I can see the other side of the dilemma too. Do the cleaning staff wear any protective gear? Masks? Gloves etc?


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Gloves, masks, and we’re encouraged not to be here when they come (which means going somewhere else for an hour). I stayed in my office, which was good, because the very SAME cleaning ladies who’ve been doing our apartment for ages started to use CLOROX on my bathroom! I had to shout to them to cut that out.

      First, plain soap and water, applied properly, are sufficient.

      Second, I was starting to not be able to breathe! For those of us who are sensitive to smells, laying Clorox on all hard surfaces, and letting it outgas, would kill me.

      Fine for door handles, and a quick wipe of something you don’t want to use soap and water on, but I had to open the windows and start up all the fans.

      Management should know better than to instruct them to clean everything with something that powerful – especially for those of us who have on record that we can’t tolerate the perfumed cleaners (which they stopped using when I asked, over a year and a half ago).

      Hand sanitizer is NOT the best way to clean hands – stuff stays on your hands – proper washing is always better, but requires time, soap, and water. A quick dash with the hand sanitizer gives a false sense of security. And I never see people do a serious job of scrubbing with the stuff.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. acflory

        I hate those heavy duty chemical cleaners too. Only use soap & water or my dwindling stock of antiseptic wipes for things that can’t be washed. My cleaning products are vinegar, eucalyptus oil and bi-carb. The marketing propaganda around those chemical products has everyone brainwashed. They often do NOT work as well as more natural products, and they’re miles more dangerous.
        Maybe you could put a big sign outside your front door warning cleaners not to use those products coz they’re sure to forget from one week to the next. :/


        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          We aren’t supposed to communicate with them; there’s a form – they’re disregarding it. Someone must have given them new instructions, but I’m not the only one, especially here, with chemical sensitivities to smells.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. acflory

          Not even a note on the door? That’s ridiculous. I know the managers of the centre are doing their best, but there’s not excuse for making residents /more/ ill. Perhaps you could casually mention the word ‘sue’?


        3. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          I’ll just remember to put a BIG sign on the door. I thought they’d look in their binder, where everyone’s preferences are listed, and I THOUGHT the cleaners would remember – was really surprised that the one said she didn’t. I made a huge deal about it.

          I think they’re all scared – as we are – and maybe trying to please management AND us is putting them in a contradictory position.

          We’ll work it out, but I’m glad we’re back to where we were a month ago, even if I have to drag it back there, at least for the cleaning.

          Liked by 1 person

        4. acflory

          When my Dad was in hospital for 6 weeks, I visited every day but one, and I discovered that the medical staff NEVER looked past the first page of his chart. I think most people just glance at written instructions and mostly rely on memory. I strongly recommend putting a big note on your door every time the cleaners come. Might not be a bad idea to remind the kitchen that there are foods you can’t eat as well. :/


  3. Lloyd Lofthouse

    I wonder if limiting housekeeping is to protect the tenants instead of the cleaners. The people that live in the retirement community you live in are not getting out, but how about the housekeeping staff. They probably go home to their families every day and no telling where all those people are going every day. Are they staying put or out shopping?

    What happens when a few members of housekeeping become contagious but show no signs of the virus.?


  4. Donnalee of Kingston NY

    Yes, it certainly would not make sense to reduce cleanliness in a time period where that is pretty much the key serious priorty, compared to cosmetic appearances or whateverhaveyou. The whole point of a residence or assisted living is to be assisted in doing what is not now possible to do for one’s self. Stay well, and I hope the management stays smarter than it could be.


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Yup. Certain things are necessary. They’re still feeding us dinner – in a crazily controlled way. No one sees anyone except by things like zoom – or briefly, at a distance.

      But residents AND staff were not taking things seriously enough – and management is clamping down more every day. We could have been more comfortable (I mourn my pool) if people were not trying to get around regulations.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          What does everyone else have? What does the facility have – they should be doing a lot for the residents.

          A computer – and an internet provider and connection – could make it possible for you and your family to see her often. Obviously, you need one with audio and video for this.

          Our family is meeting by zoom (free) because it is on most platforms (ipads, PCs, Macs, tablets, phones…). You can talk for 40 min. free, easily – and that’s really enough because video is harder than in person.

          But if the facility has no wifi – does she have a smart phone?

          This may be long – the solutions are worth the effort.

          And some people still go visit mom – but stay outside the window.

          Liked by 1 person

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